US President Barack Obama is addressing Congress in a bid to thrash out a last-minute deal to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’. The term refers to a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that will be implemented automatically if a deal cannot be reached by the end of the year — this Monday. "My hope is that regardless of partisan differences, our top priority has to be making sure that taxes on middle class families do not go up that would hurt our economy badly. We can get that done," Obama said during in interview with NBC. "Democrats and Republicans — both say they don’t want taxes to go up on middle class families. That’s something we all agree on. If we can get that done, that takes a big bite out of the fiscal cliff," he added. The president also blamed failure to reach an agreement on the Republicans, who he accused of being preoccupied with protecting tax breaks for the wealthy. The deadline for a deal is midnight on Monday local time.